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Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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Strings of Joy: senior brings musical magic to Downtown Naperville with street busking

Photo Courtesy of Kiersten Scherer
Kiersten Scherer, a Central senior, busks on the streets of Downtown Naperville. She once made $260 in one day. When she isn’t busking, she may be performing in concert halls or walking through Central’s halls.

If you’re walking through Downtown Naperville and hear the sound of a violin sweeping through the air, you may just see Central senior Kiersten Scherer busking near the corner of Main Street and Jackson Avenue.

Since 2021, Scherer has treated throngs of passersby to her musical talents. Scherer plays mostly classical music, but mixes in a few more modern titles to her setlist.

“Seeing people really appreciate it, making people happy, it’s just good,” Scherer said.

Scherer started learning the violin as a 4-year old. All of her practice and work has culminated today: she’s a member of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra and Central’s Symphonic Orchestra. On the side, Scherer also teaches lessons for younger violinists at a local music school.

“My mom played [violin] when she was growing up,” Scherer said. “So me and both my brothers play. I started through private lessons and eventually switched to my current violin school. [The school] really encouraged getting out in the community, and it’s become a really significant part of my life.”

Scherer’s setlist is divided into two distinct categories: Christmas music and non-Christmas music. Accompanying her classical titles are some Spanish, fiddle and lyric-based songs. Scherer creates her own arrangements for more well known songs such as “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley, “Married Life” from the Pixar film “Up” and “Que Sera, Sera” from “The Man Who Knew Too Much”.“Can’t Help Falling in Love” is a crowd favorite;  Scherer can recall a few occasions that come to mind where some couples danced to her stringed rendition of the song.

“I have perfect pitch and I grew up learning using the Suzuki method which really emphasizes learning by ear,” Scherer said. “It’s helpful for stuff like this because often people have said ‘can you play this?’ and usually it’s like ‘well, I’ve never played with that in my life, but yeah, as long as I’ve heard it.’”

Scherer first started street performing in sixth grade when her quartet would go to Downtown Naperville and perform on the street. Scherer later joined a group that would do gigs in Downtown Chicago at office Christmas parties. She credits her mom with originally suggesting busking to her.

“I needed money and my mom had said ‘you should do this’ for just a really long time,” Scherer said. “The first time I ever went was Black Friday two years ago and I made about $150 and in an hour and a half and I was like, ‘Oh, this is great.’ On that Christmas Eve I made like my all-time max which is about $260.”

Scherer has had her fair share of interesting situations that have happened when she’s busking streetside, including a person who offered to record with her, a man who teared up while listening to Pachelbel’s Canon and people who have approached her asking her to play at weddings and other events.

“Most people don’t go to classical music concerts or anything so they don’t really see violinists,” Scherer said. “So I think it’s just fun because I get to expose people to different music that they don’t usually listen to.”

Scherer has seen benefits to her mental health from busking.

“I had really bad performance anxiety,” Scherer said “Busking, standing there and playing, it actually did really good things for my performance anxiety and I can now kind of just get up and perform.”

Senior Violet Whelchel, a flutist at Central, has busked with Scherer before in a small group with another musician. She’s also played with Scherer in Central’s pit orchestra.

“I don’t want to say that she’s talented, because she works really hard and I feel like saying that she’s talented undermines all of her hard work,” Whelchel said. “But she really knows what she wants and she’s very good about doing everything that she can to get to it.”

Post high-school, Scherer plans to major in instrumental performance with hopes to be a musical theater pit director or a teacher in the future.

“Families with little kids, they’ll have their strollers and they’ll all be super excited,” Scherer said. “Some parents have been asking where I take lessons for their own kids. I like to think hopefully I’m encouraging some kids to get into music.”

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About the Contributor
Jay Deegan
Jay Deegan, Print Managing Editor
Jay Deegan is a Junior at Central and happy to start his third year of journalistic adventures at the Central Times. Jay loves writing features and diving in-depth into issues that plague our community. In his free time Jay runs a freelance videography and photography business and loves to creatively express his interests in sports and filmmaking. If you’d like to join CT or have a tip, reach out!
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